Sampler (The Tartarus of Maids). 1999. Hand embroidery on linen. 29 x 13.25 in. (73.7 x 33.7 cm)


The Tartarus of Maids.
At rows of blank-looking counters
sat rows of blank-looking girls, with
blank, white folders in their blank
hands, all blankly folding blank paper.
So, through consumptive pallors of
this blank, raggy life, go these white
girls to death.
           —Herman Melville, 1855

Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
He could see absolutely nothing but
a pale nebulousness at his feet,
which represented the white muslin
figure he had left upon the dead
leaves. Why was it that upon this
beautiful feminine tissues sensitive
as gossamer, and practically blank
as snow as yet, there should have
been traced such as coarse pattern
as it was doomed to receive?
           —Thomas Hardy, 1891